Before you ever pick up a brush or roller, you need to spend some quality time with your paint, stirring it to make sure it is thoroughly mixed. Since this can be a little messy for most of us, try placing the whole can into a large paper sack or a cardboard box. This gives you a good shield for those spatters and drips. Keep the messes under control, and you’ll have to spend less time cleaning up later.

Q: My kitchen table is made of plastic laminate. I would like to cover it with wood veneer. Can I do it? – N.G.

A: It would be best to glue the wood to a wood base. As an alternative, you could install a 1/4-inch plywood sheet over the laminate and then install the veneer. If you want to try the veneer right over the laminate, just make sure to sand the gloss off the surface really well. Then, use a contact adhesive made for the veneer and apply pressure from the veneer roller to insure a good finish to the table. It’s worth a shot!

Tips from readers

Dear Carrells: We bought a plumber’s snake when we had a clog in our bathroom. It worked well to help us clear the clog, and I stuffed it in the garage to use later. “Later” happened last weekend when the gutters on the front of the house overflowed because of a clog. I grabbed the plumbers snake and sent it up through the downspout from the ground. It pushed the clog out the top and it started flowing again. It was the first time I didn’t have to climb up on the roof to fix it. I’m glad I had it on hand. – H.S.


Dear Al: We’ve always saved real wine corks. In fact, we created a backsplash for our wet bar out of the rubber corks we had amassed. We found a great use for the old, real corks. We glued them to a thin cutting board and built a frame around them with leftover wooden wall trim and filled it with clear plastic resin to create a really neat cutting board for our bar. I still have more corks, so I’m looking for more ideas if you have any. – G.A.


Dear Kelly: We like to feed the birds during the winter so they don’t do without when it’s icy and cold. I take old bagels, hard cookies or bad fruit and coat them with peanut butter and roll them in bird seed. Then I hang them on my porch or one of my trees. The birds love them. I also get a few squirrels, but I guess they need to eat, too. – V.R.


Dear Carrells: Well, I knew it would happen because the whole family was in town for Thanksgiving – the sink in the bar stopped up. I needed to drain the sink and was able to get most of the water out except for the last little bit. I grabbed the turkey baster to suck the rest of the water out. It worked quickly, and then I was able to pull the drain off and remove the clog. I’m going to buy my own baster just to keep in my plumbing-repair basket, because I can see that I will be using this again – but not anytime soon, I hope! – J.Y.

A Super hint

Most light sockets and extension cords will have a power rating listed somewhere on them. Take a close look at these numbers, especially the maximum wattage delivered, before adding higher wattage bulbs or more devices to them. Putting too much usage on one can cause a fire hazard!

Got a question or a handy tip? Visit Those of general interest will be used in future columns.